MY AFRICAN JOURNEY
(Cohen A27) (Woods A12)
My African Journey was first published in a shorter form in The Strand Magazine (Woods C35), though the last two chapters in the book did not appear in the periodical. The illustrations in the book were selected from the magazine. The magazine serials total to about 35,000 words, while the book is about 45,000. Even this was not enough for the size book the publishers wanted, so its 12-point type was generously leaded. Both the First and American Editions are important because they appear to include photographs allegedly taken by Churchill, the only such appearance in the canon. The text is important because it shows Churchill raising prescient questions involving the betterment of the East African population. These were issues far ahead of their time, some of which were only being addressed half a century later and, judging by the recent history of Somalia, Rwanda and Zaire, not being addressed very well.
As Undersecretary of State for the Colonies in 1907, Churchill was theoretically answerable to the Colonial Secretary, Lord Elgin (pronounced “El-gan”). But since Elgin was in the House of Lords, it fell to Churchill to speak on Government Colonial policy in the Commons—a pleasant assignment, which the ambitious Winston used to the fullest. With six books and eight volumes already behind him, he also saw the advantages of producing a travelogue on Britain’s valuable possessions in East Africa. When he asked his senior for permission to travel to Africa on an extended tour of inspection, his request was granted. Elgin was only too happy to be relieved of his opinionated and talkative junior, at least for a little while.
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews
“In Mr. Churchill’s book the picture of his travels is vividly and attractively drawn. Here and there he employs a somewhat extravagant language to describe matters of insignificant detail…but on the whole there is little to criticize and much to praise in the story that he unfolds. East Africa, Mr. Churchill thinks, can never be a white man’s country in the true sense of the word, for proof is wanting that ‘the pure-bred European can rear his children under the equatorial sun and at an elevation of 6,000 feet.’ The desire of the white man to make East Africa a white man’s country does not bring him into collision with the black aboriginal [because] ‘the white man absolutely refuses to do black man’s work.’ ….Mr. Churchill recommends reserving the highland areas for exploitation at the hands of the white man, while at the same time encouraging the Asiatic to trade and settle in ‘the enormous regions of tropical fertility to which he is naturally adapted.’
Of the entrancing scenery of Uganda, Mr. Churchill writes with undisguised admiration: ‘The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale.’ In the rich domain between the Victoria and Albert Lakes ‘an amiable, clothed, polite and intelligent race dwell together in an organised monarchy….’ Mr. Churchill trekked north, passing from the regions of equatorial luxuriance to the two great deserts, emerging finally in the tourist-ridden land of Egypt. Speeding down the White Nile to the Sudan and Egypt, he opines that ‘the best lies behind. Uganda is a pearl.’
“When he sums up his conclusions as a result of the journey, they comprise the words: ‘Concentrate upon Uganda,’ and the steps which should be taken to develop the immense latent wealth of the country are summed up in the three words: ‘Build a Railway.’”
—The Bookman, London, January 1909
This is a physically beautiful book and for that reason one of the most popular Churchill works. Aside from its striking cover, collectors are drawn to its profuse illustrations, most of which disappeared after the First Editions. It is also popular with Africana collectors.
My African Journey has held its value well over the years; finding a fine copy is not impossible, but it is increasingly difficult; as always, such examples command a healthy premium. Buyers should be extremely careful personally to collate a prospective purchase; be sure to check all illustration pages and maps, which were tipped in and can easily loosen and fall out. The wrapper variant is a hundred times rarer than the hardback.
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Cohen A27.1 / ICS A12aa
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1908
Red pictorial cloth, spine blocked gilt; the top board carries a woodcut illustration of Churchill with his bagged white rhinoceros, blocked blue, brown and black and signed “HR” over the title and author’s name, all inside a heavy black rule. Frontispiece illustration (photo of cover scene), protected by acetate. 8vo, 242 pages numbered (2), (I)-(xiv) and (1)-226; 18-page rear catalogue of other Hodder & Stoughton titles printed on the same stock; sixty unnumbered photo pages on coated stock inserted throughout (see illustrations list, pages ix to xiii); three maps on coated stock facing pages 2, 16 and 92. Endpapers blank. Published December 1908 at 5s. ($1.25).
Quantities and Impressions
A single impression of 12,500 was produced.
No jackets have surfaced and it is impossible to speculate on their design; they certainly existed, since Hodder & Stoughton was jacketing copies for several years by 1908.
Hardbound variant: Copies exist with a small gold “asterisk” centered above or below the publisher’s imprint on the bottom of the spine. Since every such copy we and others have examined contains evidence of having been first sold in India or the British Colonies, and since My African Journey has no separate Colonial issue, the “asterisk” almost certainly designates an export edition.
Softbound variant: The very rare card-wrapped edition is identical internally to the hardbound First Edition. The following description is provided by Mark Weber, owner of the only copy we know of: “The paper stock, title page, frontispiece (with glassine) are identical to the First Edition. Wrappers are light card, white on the inside, the outside a light tan. This comes from the endpaper tightly glued onto the outer cover. The front cover illustration is identical to that of the First Edition except that the background is tan instead of red. The blue black and grey are clearly printed from the same tools. The rear face is blank, although this copy has a booksellers label from Kobe Japan, indicating this may be an export edition. The spine is printed black on tan background MY AFRICAN JOURNEY in three lines of serif type similar but smaller than the spine type of the First Edition. The author’s name is in three lines, same as the First Edition, but in a sans serif font bold font except L’s have turn ups. “Hodder & Stoughton” at the spine base is in italic upper/lower case. Supporting our theory that this is another export variation, an asterisk appears below the publisher name.” Woods (page 42) describes this variant in “cream” wrappers but misdates it “March 1919” and confuses its price and quantity with the First Cheap Edition (Cohen A25.6, see below).
First Colonial Issue
Cohen A27.2 / ICS A12
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1908
Virtually identical to the First Edition save for a small, guilt asterisk below the name of the publisher on the spine.
Cohen A27.4 / .5/ .6 / ICS A12ab
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton & George Doran, New York, 1908
Dark red buckram, spine blocked gilt with title, author’s name, publisher imprint and a double band (one narrow, one wide) top and bottom. The boards are blank. Frontispiece illustration of Churchill with his white rhinoceros, sometimes protected by acetate. 8vo, about 1/4 inch taller than the First Edition; 240 pages numbered (i)-(xiv) and (1)-226; sixty unnumbered photo pages on coated stock inserted throughout (see illustrations list, pages ix to xiii); three maps on coated stock facing pages 2, 16 and 92. No rear catalogue. Endpapers blank. Published 17 April 1909 at $1.50. Mentioned by Woods, page 41 (confused as a “later issue” of the First Edition by Woods, page 42).
Quantities and Impressions
There appear to have been two impressions, the first using English sheets, the second pressed outside England. See variants, below.
A dust jacket is presumed to have existed but none has been found.
There are three distinct issues, conforming to changes in Hodder & Stoughton’s operations in the United States. Each can be clearly recognized from the publisher’s imprint at the bottom of the title page. Note that all issues read HODDER & STOUGHTON on the spines.
First Issue: Title page reads HODDER AND STOUGHTON | LONDON MCMVIII. These copies contain the imprint, “Clay & Sons” on page (iv). Cohen A27.2.
Second Issue: Title page reads HODDER & STOUGHTON | NEW YORK AND LONDON [no date]; page (iv) carries the Clay & Sons printer’s imprint. Cohen A27.3.
Third Issue: Cancel title reads GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY | NEW YORK; page (iv) lacks the Clay & Sons imprint. Since this title page is a cancel, the balance of the contents are likely made up from existing sheets. Cohen A27.4.
Contrary to Woods, the American issues were not published by Doubleday, Doran, a firm which did not exist until a 1929 merger. In fact, Hodder & Stoughton set up George Doran in business in New York, and My African Journey may have been his first title. The first issue represents export sheets identical to (perhaps part of) the English impression of 12,500; the second issue reflects the publisher’s establishing a New York office; the third issue reflects the emergence of George Doran as Hodder & Stoughton’s United States distributor.
Although it offers the serious collector three separate ways to spend money and is much scarcer than the First Edition, the American issue lacks appeal because its plain cover is much less attractive than the First Edition’s. It is, however, a more durable binding; having spent their lives in the USA, copies tend to be free of foxing. Be sure all inserted photo and map pages are present before buying. Woods (page 42) confusingly mentions a “later issue without the illustration or lettering in the top board” (this is the American issue); and two paperback editions whose characteristics he confuses: a “cheap paperback…published March 1919” came long after what Woods calls “another, probably subsequent” paperback, whose description is that of the Hodder & Stoughton 1909 edition.
Important in tracing the publishing history, the American issue is less significant as a collector’s item; generally, copies sell for not more than 75% the prices of First Editions in comparable condition. We have seen too few to judge which issue is rarest.
Cohen A27.7 / ICS A12ac
Publisher: Wm. Briggs, Toronto, 1909
Red pictorial cloth, spine blocked gilt; the top board identical to the First Edition. 8vo, endpapers blank. Cancel title page reads WILLIAM BRIGGS | 1909; no publisher’s rear catalogue; contents otherwise identical to the First Edition but printed on thinner paper. Apparently printed in England: Clay & Sons imprint on page (iv).
A softbound wrapper version has been reported, but is not verified.
This is an extremely rare variant. Having never heard of a sale, appraising this one is mere guesswork, but we believe it would command the price of a near-fine (but not a full-fine) First Edition. The Canadian Ian Hamilton has intrinsic value because of its unique binding. The Briggs African Journey looks outwardly like a conventional First Edition. Since collectors are attracted by oddity, they would be less tempted by this one than the Canadian Ian Hamilton.
First Cheap Edition
Cohen A27.8 / ICS A12b
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1910
Cream-greyish pictorial wrappers. On top wrap, the title (blue) and author’s name (black) over a color illustration of Churchill and his white rhinoceros (similar but not identical to the First Edition’s cover artwork). 8vo, 96 pages, adverts on pages 1, 2, 6, 93-96 plus inside of wrappers and back wrapper. Type arranged in two-column format, no internal illustrations. Woods (page 42) confuses this with the wrapper variant of the First Edition, which he states was published in March 1919 at six shillings in a quantity of 20,000 copies. The price and quantity undoubtedly refer to this work, but Woods’ date is probably a typo for March 1909.
This is a production similar to the pulp Savrola, A3(c), but much scarcer and more expensive. Very large sums have been asked and paid for nice copies, which are rarely fine because of the usually yellowed page stock. The handsome cover is a unique artistic attribute of this edition.
Holland Press Edition
Cohen A27.9 / ICS A12c
Publisher: Holland Press-Neville Spearman, London, 1962
Brown cloth blocked gilt on spine, boards blank. 8vo, 150 pages, frontispiece and four internal photos, map at page [viii]. Dust jacket printed orange, brown and black with “Churchill” the dominant word on the top face, emblazoned across an outline map of Africa with the Nile traced by a white line. The text for this edition was completely reset. One impression was published, quantity unknown. A serviceable reading copy, unfortunately lacking most of the original illustrations. Mentioned by Woods, page 42.
First Modern Paperback Edition
Cohen A27.10 / ICS A12d
Publisher: Icon Books, London, 1964
This first modern paperback carries cover illustrated with art and photos that would better be applied to London to Ladysmith. 128 pages, no frontispiece or other illustrations; the text was again reset for this edition. Two impressions exist, quantities unknown. Offered at 3s. 6d. Not in Woods.
Cohen A27.11 / ICS A12e
Publisher: Heron Books, London, c.1965
A pretty little red leatherette volume blocked in decorative gilt with “Churchill” on top board and four “attempts” at bands on the spine. Decorative gilt-on-brown endpapers and yellow cloth page marker. 16mo, 152 pages including a colophon naming the book’s designer, William B. Taylor for Edito-Service S.A., Geneva. Printed in Switzerland by photographically reducing the text and photos from the Holland Press edition of 1962. Among the inexpensive editions this is moderately desirable, if a bit hard on the eyes. Not in Woods.
Copies have been observed with and without top edges gilt.
Not worth a huge sum, though an attractive book.
Second Paperback Edition (New English Library Edition)
Cohen A27.12 / ICS A12f
Publisher, New English Library, London, 1972
A paperback subtitled “A rare episode in the life of the young Winston Churchill.” Tan wrappers with charging elephant on front and photo of the author c.1900 on the back wrapper, along with prices in eight currencies. Published March 1972 at 25 pence in the UK. One impression known. Not in Woods.
The New Edition, 1989
Cohen A27.13 / ICS A12g
My African Journey was among the several older Churchill titles reprinted by Leo Cooper and W. W. Norton in 1989-90. Features common to all issues of this edition are as follows: text photographically reproduced from the “Collected Works,” Volume I (see appendix), including twelve pages of photos from the original work on coated stock; new Foreword by Tom Hartmann (in addition to the author’s original preface); and a map reprinted from the original edition. All issues are essentially the same. They make ideal reading copies, especially for those wishing to experience Churchill’s “incredible journey” without wear and tear on valuable early editions.
First New Edition (New British Issue)
Cohen A27.13, ICS A12ga
Publisher: Leo Cooper, London, 1989
Black cloth stamped gilt on spine, plain boards. 8vo, 136 pages including appendix on the International Churchill Societies; published at £14.95. Black dust jacket printed white, blue and red, photo of author circa 1908. One impression, no known variants.
New American Issue
Cohen A27.14, ICS A12gb
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1990
Dark green cloth stamped silver on spine, plain boards. 8vo, 136 pages including ICS appendix; published at $18.95. White dust jacket printed green, gold and black, cropped and enlarged version of Home Issue jacket photo. One impression, no known variants.
New Paperback Issue
Cohen A27.15, ICS A12gc
Publisher: Mandarin Books, London, 1991
Pictorial heavy color boards showing an African warrior multicolor. 8vo, 138 pages including an extra leaf with more Mandarin titles on reverse; no illustrations. Published at £4.99. One impression, no variants. ICS A12gc.
Cohen A27.16 ICS A12h
Publisher: Easton Press, Norwalk, Ct., 1992
Part of an extensive, pigskin-bound limited edition of travel books, not sold separately, thus hard for Churchill collectors to find. Reddish brown pigskin elaborately blocked gilt on both cover (a decorative globe device) and spine (three decorative devices separating the title and “Winston Churchill,” along with three raised spine bands). Beige moire cloth endpapers, tan silk page marker, all edges gilt. 8vo, 136 pages numbered (i)-(ii) and (1)-134. (ICS appendix excised). Title page states: “COLLECTOR’S EDITION | Bound in Genuine Leather.” Illustrations identical to the Cooper-Norton editions, and likely photographically reproduced from their sheets. However, a special black and white drawing of a charging rhinoceros (artist unstated) was commissioned for the frontispiece of this work. About 2000 copies were published.
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